“forbearing one another, and forgiving one another, if any man have a quarrel against any: even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye.”
Colossians 3:13 KJV
BJ: I went to Amsterdam a few years back and had the opportunity to visit Corrie ten Booms' house in holland. I was so overwhelmed to see the places where these people hid. On the plane ride over, I reread her book "The Hiding Place." It helped me imagine what their experience was. I could see the faces; hear her talk; I imagined it like it was happening. Seeing what she went through; reading the story of her life; listening to her testimony on Youtube. It did something to me the way she explained forgiveness. She talked about how her family died in concentration camps. The war destroyed her country and her relationships. Later in life, she came face to face with a soldier who had a hand in her sister dying in the concentration camp. She was a traveling minister and came face to face with this cruel man at one of her events. Except now, he had found Christ, but she was not happy about it. Self would want this person to be suffering for what they had done, not having Christ's freedom! So it overwhelmed her; the man wanted to shake her hand. She said she prayed to the Lord that he would help her forgive him and love him because she could not do it within herself. As she reached her hand out, she said she felt the holy spirit go through her and love and forgive this man. I realized that that's what God did to me. I do not have the ability within myself to love and forgive. With God and the Holy Spirit, I can do all things through Christ, who strengthens me.
Joseph Betrayed by his Brothers
I want to talk about Joseph; he went through that same trial. He was his father's favorite, hated by his brothers, thrown in a pit, and sold into slavery. Joseph had every opportunity to let unforgiveness in and take root. Every opportunity to let anger and bitterness into his heart. He had a legitimate reason, and how would you feel if you knew your brothers wanted to kill you. So instead of killing him, they gave him a life sentence of slavery. Joseph was now no longer his own. He was a slave to whoever owned him. They took every right that he had away. But God was with him every step of the way.
The way I know, Joseph lived a life of forgiveness because if we can not forgive, God can not forgive us. The book of Joseph constantly says that God was with Joseph. When he was in the house of Potiphar, God gave him the chance to be in the house of someone that could make a difference in his life. Joseph was walking hand and hand with God. If Joseph got caught up in bitterness and anger and let that flow out of him, the hand of God could not flow into his work. The boss knew this and saw this in him. He knew Joseph; they were friends. You don't give someone everything you own (except for your wife) if you don't know them. He knew him intimately. He knew his wife as well, and he knew what type of person his wife was. When his wife accused Joseph, Potiphar knew he was innocent, but he took his wife's side. Joseph had a reason to be angry and bitter for being thrown in jail for something he did not do, but then it says God was with Joseph, and God elevated him in this prison, and God moved in that prison. In prison, Joseph interpreted the dreams of two powerful men from the King's staff. One of the men told Joseph that when he got out, "I promise I will help you. I will tell the king about you." Again Joseph had something to be bitter about because it took the man two years to remember to tell the king about him. He said God; I don't know why but I will trust you. God comes through, and now Joeseph is in a powerful position in the kingdom, and he is in a position where he can hand out vengeance with no questions asked. He could send soldiers to find his brothers, Potiphar and his wife, or the man who forgot about him. But he didn't. Instead, he gave God that anger and that hurt and bitterness and let God work in his life. He put the fire of anger and bitterness out before it had the chance to rule him. He could have reacted when his brothers came before him, as some would probably like to. Instead of rejecting his brothers, he showed mercy on them. When their dad died, he could have killed them all, but instead, he extended his hand of love. Could a man go through what Joseph went through and consistently walk in forgiveness? I'm sure it wasn't easy. That was a long walk to Egypt. There is no quick and easy solution, but we can see in Josephs's life that it is possible to forgive.
There is another clue that he walked with God, and that is when he saw his brothers, he had to leave, and he wept bitterly. I feel like maybe he was having one of those moments like Jesus had in the garden. Perhaps he wanted to be the one to get the vengence, but he knew he had to let it go and let God do his work. Sometimes we have to let it go and let God do his work and be the Just one. It's hard, and we might weep bitterly because of it. with God's help, we can do it.
Onetime, someone had blatantly offended me, and I couldn't just retaliate. I remember God dealing with me about it. So I walked away, and I was in the car screaming, "Die Self, Die Self!!" Because I was rising up and wanted to handle business a certain way. I had to tell myself, "self, you have to die so God can work." Through all his pain and suffering, I think Joseph had those moments where he cried and had to ask the Lord's help to forgive that person. Sometimes I think we feel we have to do it within this flesh of ours but we're not able to. We can't forgive through this flesh.
So take whatever kind of unforgiveness it is you have today. Whether it be a family member hurting you, violence, marriage abuse, work discrimination, someone that said something that hurt you, whatever it may be. He wants us to walk in love and forgiveness so that we don't give the enemy a place. He will show you how to walk in forgiveness and the Holy Spirit and help you walk in each step as you go. As long as you walk forward, you will eventually see God work in your life. You will continue to go through something but put the fire out immediately. Don't let the sun go down on your wrath. Don't let the unforgiveness grow and fester until there is a wall between you and that person.